Gov. Bill Lee signs executive order to enable additional flood recovery efforts, FEMA to join

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Tennessee’s Governor Bill Lee has taken executive action in response to the severe weather and historic rainfall and flooding from February. 

Under Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order he signed Thursday to enable more flood recovery efforts to begin the process of declaring a federal disaster, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) will begin joint assessments with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

The record rains caused statewide ruin; currently, 83 counties have reported weather-related damage.

“As waters recede and we are now able to fully review the extent of flooding damage across our state, I signed an executive order as a key step in working with the federal government for further recovery efforts,” said Lee. “We thank the first responders who are working diligently to keep citizens safe and deliver services.”

A press release states the executive order suspends certain laws to enable smoother delivery of health care, insurance, relief supplies and personnel, and other recovery components.  The order is retroactively effective February 6, 2019, when the flooding and severe weather began, in order to ensure that it covers all relief efforts, and it will remain in effect through April 7, 2019.

In February alone, Knoxville saw a record more than 13 inches of rainfall. 

The Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation and TEMA have been coordinating with local authorities to collect all the necessary data for further implement recovery efforts. This marks the beginning process of engaging federal government assistance for funding and other resources. 

Gov. Lee is surveying the damages on Friday, beginning with Hardin County and the surrounding communities. 

Earlier Thursday, TEMA sent out a release stating it had requested FEMA to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments (PDAs) for 46 Tennessee counties that were impacted by the recent rainfall and flooding. TEMA also requested FEMA run PDAs in six counties for the federal Individual Assistance program – Knox, Blount, Hamblen, Humphreys, Perry and Roane. 

TEMA’s release also stating, “even if Tennessee eventually receives a Major Disaster Declaration, it does not guarantee Tennesseans impacted by the floods will receive help directly for rebuilding or repairing their homes.  FEMA Individual Assistance is not a guaranteed program as part of a Major Disaster Declaration from the federal government.”

The joint TEMA and FEMA assessments begin next week. 

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